Monday, September 30, 2013

Payment Plans: A brief overview of some of the pricing models used in gaming

The increasing number of free-to-play games being released in recent years is good news for those with big gaming appetites and little disposable cash. While some games are happy to give pretty much everything away for free, others offer a taste before asking you to pay for the best content. As such, the free-to-play pricing model, can vary quite a bit in terms of exactly what you can get for nothing. Today I briefly examine some of the different pricing models employed in gaming to extract cash consumers.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Weekly Roundup - September 22-28, 2013

Overshadowing all other news this week was Valve's announcement of it's new home console, the 'Steam Machine'. Other news included China officially lifting it's ban on the sale of home consoles, some legal wranglings between EA and the NCAA as well as Activision-Blizzard and Vivendi, and the reveal of Grand Theft Auto 5's online micro-transaction model.

Friday, September 27, 2013

My Review Philosophy

Since I have started posting more reviews, I have had a few people ask for clarification on how I can to my conclusions. While I feel that my reviews are pretty straightforward in that they follow the structure used by many mainstream gaming sites, I think an explanation of my methodology can be a helpful supplement to the reviews themselves. As such, below you will find an outline of some of the criteria I consider and how everything fits together to get to a final score. Of course, I reserve the right to change my opinion and criteria at any time, but I think this should represent a pretty good idea of my general review philosophy.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

High Puzzling: Eets Munchies Beta (review)

The latest Humble (Indie) Bundle came with beta access to upcoming title in the Eets series (Eets Munchies) being developed by Klei Entertainment. Klei has been on a tear lately producing some fairly successful titles including Mark of the Ninja and Shank and it is nice to see them revisiting one of their older titles. Today I give my (p)review of the beta for Eets Munchies; please bear in mind that my impressions here are not for the final version of the game although I feel that enough content is present that a review is possible.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Devised Differences: A brief exploration of gender inequality in games

In the past few weeks, the gaming world has seen its fair share of stories related to sexuality and gender inequality. From the controversy surrounding the reveal of the new 'erotic' female characters in the next Metal Gear game (sporting armor that wouldn't be sufficient for the beach let alone the battlefield) to the outrage towards Gamespot's Carolyn Petit for docking Grand Theft Auto 5 a point in her review because of it's misogynistic treatment of women, the topic has been fairly active. With this in mind, today I thought I would weigh in with my views on gender inequality in relation to gaming.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

All About the Polygons: Some points on graphics in gaming

Video games are a unique medium in that they produce visual feedback as a response to user input. In the past 30 years games have gone from simple lines and dots to near photo-realism. While this advancement is impressive, I think it is important to be wary of better graphics coming at the cost of gameplay. Today I briefly explore these points and a few others in the realm of video game graphics.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Negating Nostalgia: Is Final Fantasy 7 actually a good game?

In 1997, Square released one of best known games of all time for the original Playstation, Final Fantasy 7.  At the time, it was praised as an instant classic and was instrumental in solidifying the Playstation as the champion of its generation. In the sixteen years since its release, a growing contingent of vocal gamers have been making the case that Final Fantasy 7 isn't all its cracked up to be and that the continued fondness for the game is mostly based in nostalgia rather than actual merit. Today I will explore the then and now considerations of Final Fantasy 7 in an effort to determine if it really is worth modern attention or if should stay a part of history.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Weekly Roundup - September 15-21, 2013

This week was dominated by the release of Grand Theft Auto 5 and its meteoric sales. Also, Blizzard announced the removal of the auction house from Diablo 3, a remake of Ghost N' Goblins briefly popped up on Steam, Nintendo is treading the waters of new pricing models, and Chris G continues to dominate the fighting game circuit.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Browse This - A collection of some of the best browser based games available

Browser-based games, games that are played entirely within a web browser, are a strange breed. Lacking the resources of a dedicated gaming console it would seem that, at first glance, they would be mostly throwaway fare. While many of the earliest browser games were garbage when compared to any of the full-fledged gaming experiences available, recent years have seen a bevy of high quality titles from mainstream and independent developers alike. Today I cover a few of the best browser games available.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

What's What 2 - A primer to the wide world of gaming

In What's What, I described some of the biggest genres in gaming through elaborating their associated acronyms. At the time, I acknowledged that I was only scratching the surface of the plethora of types of games out there and, after receiving quite a bit of positive feedback from gamers and non-gamers alike, I thought it would be a good idea to try and outline some of the less acronym heavy genres out there. Today's post is primarily aimed at the non-gamer but should hopefully inspire gamers to try out something new if they usually stick to a favourite type of game.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Going, Going, Gone: Ramifications of the removal of the auction house from Diablo 3

Yesterday, John Hight and Josh Mosqueira, the current brain trust of the Diablo franchise, announced that they would be removing the gold and real money auction houses entirely from Diablo 3. This represents a massive shift in design philosophy from Jay Wilson who has since migrated to a different title within Blizzard. Today I aim to elaborate just how radical this change is, why I think a change of this magnitude was needed (although not necessarily this change), and what repercussions it will hold for to future.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Head Games: Mental health and gaming

In a recent post I covered some of the Facts and Figures of the gaming world in an effort to debunk the image of the stereotypical gamer. My post was obviously pro-gaming but one comment I received asked about the link between addiction and gaming. While I provided a brief response at the time, I feel that the topic warrants a more in depth exploration. Today I discuss the relationship between mental health and gaming with a focus on the issues of addiction and depression.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Heroically Free - Marvel Heroes after patch 1.2 (review)

I was really excited for the launch of Gazillion Entertainment's Marvel Heroes. Helmed by David Brevik, one of the chief architects of Diablo, and promising to allow the player to control iconic superheroes in a modern ARPG seemed like a couldn't miss combination. Unfortunately, the June 4, 2013 release of Marvel Heroes was an unrefined product that was marred by server instabilities. After a few extra months to bake, the game is substantially better but still exhibits some rough edges. Today I provide my review of Marvel Heroes as currently patched (1.2).

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Weekly Roundup - September 8-14, 2013

This week was capped by an out of the blue announcement from Sony that they are launching a home console version of the Vita. Also, Valve announced a new family sharing feature for Steam, the Grand Theft Auto 5 world map was possibly "leaked", and the Starcraft Universe mod hit it's Kickstarter goal. All in all, a fairly exciting week.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Why Innovataion is Important: Lessons from the rhythm genre

Until a few years ago, the rhythm game genre, exemplified by the Guitar Hero and Rock Band series, was one of the hottest selling genres around. Personally, I remember driving in the rain to pick up my full boxed set of Rock Band on launch day giddy with excitement. Then, almost with the abruptness that propelled the genre into the mainstream, the games disappeared. Earlier this year, Rock Band officially stopped releasing new weekly tracks and the genre appears all but dead with no new titles on the horizon. In today's post I examine why most of us have retired our plastic instruments and postulate the lesson other genres should learn from it.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

What's What: A primer of some common gaming acronyms

Continuing from yesterday's post (Who's Who), today I aim to elaborate some of the different genres in gaming and explain some of the acronyms that are routinely tossed about. For the uninitiated, this should be a good start to understanding concepts which are often taken for granted in the gaming world. This list is far from exhaustive but covers what I feel to be the most prevalent terms.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Who's Who: A primer of some of the most recognizable gaming mascots

Building on the positive responses to yesterday's post (Facts and Figures), I thought I might provide a bit of a primer of some of the key mascots in games. This list represents some of the most iconic characters and should be handy for those unfamiliar with gaming and curious as to some of the images they routinely see on box art or in commercials. Obviously, this list if far from extensive and I am sure that I have left a bunch of popular characters off. I have tried to incorporate characters from a variety of companies and genres and am not making any claims along the lines that 'these are the best' or even that 'these are my favourite'. As such, don't take it personally if your favourite didn't make the cut.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Facts and Figures: Debunking the stereotypical gamer

In recent days I have found myself explaining my blog and gaming in general to a lot of non-gamers. While some people seem to have a pretty good grasp of the industry, I sometimes find myself becoming defensive in these conversations and feeling the need to justify my passion. While I don't feel that ignorance of the industry is born out of malice, I have come to the realization that there are a great many people who are simply unplugged from something I take for granted. With this in mind, I thought I would provide a few facts and figures that I feel could enhance the non-gamers understanding of gaming and are hopefully interesting for gamers as well.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Don't Cross the Streams: Explaining the rising popularity of live streaming games

On Saturday, I hosted my first ever Twitch stream and played a few rounds of Team Fortress 2. Although I kept it relatively short, I felt that, all in all, it was a success. Naturally, I have areas which could be improved and would like to thank everyone for the high quality and constructive feedback they have provided. If you missed it, you can watch the whole thing through my Twitch channel or catch the condensed highlight real on YouTube. With this in mind, I thought I would discuss the phenomenon of live gaming streams, why I think it is becoming more popular, and where I think it is headed.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Weekly Roundup - September 1-7, 2013

Today, in my first ever 'Weekly Roundup', I cover the top news of the last week from the gaming world and give a bit of my own insight. The presentation is in no particular order.

This week was a pretty mixed bag with the biggest news coming from Microsoft who announced the official launch date for the Xbox One. Beyond this, we started to see a bit of the fallout from A Realm Reborn's shaky start, found out that Gearbox has two new IPs coming up, and learned that Jack Black will lend his voice to Broken Age. Finally, rounding it all out was a story about a mis-translation that totally missed the opportunity to engage in a serious discussion about sexism.

Friday, September 6, 2013

A New Grind: Final Fantasy: A Realm Reborn (review)

A few weeks ago I gave my early impressions of Final Fantasy: A Realm Reborn (Respectable Remix). After getting my hands on the release copy and dabbling a bit in the end-game I feel I am ready to give my say. While a lot of my initial impressions have been upheld, some have not. Also, please bear in mind that this is an MMO, the game now might be completely different in a few months and, as always, I reserve the right to change my opinion at any time.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Fighting Words: Explaining the resurgence of the fighting game

In the past few years, fighting games have experienced a resurgence in popularity and are once again routinely topping sales charts. This year's Evolution fighting championship drew over 1.7 million viewers and, by all accounts, was the biggest fighting game tournament ever held. While the uptick in the popularity of fighting games is largely due to higher quality titles being released, I think that there is a bit more at play here. Today I aim to elaborate some of the reasons why fighting games are back on the shelves and heading gamer playlists.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Cheatin' Varmint - The nuanced ethics of breaking the rules

No matter the game, players have always sought out ways to obtain an advantage. Whether the end of this was to have the top spot on the high score board, to brutally crush enemies, or to explore the breaking points of a system, various methods have been employed ranging from simplistic physical techniques to subtle manipulation of game code. Often, as one player discovers a method for performing better in a game they are accused of cheating. Today I will delve into the nebulous concept of cheating and provide some examples to highlight were I think the line is drawn between cheating and legitimate play.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Strange Brew - The niche market for the OUYA

The OUYA console is one of Kickstarter’s greatest success stories. After raising almost 9 times their initial goal, the OUYA had more than enough backing to ensure that it would see launch even when factoring in unexpected costs. Despite its massive initial push, the OUYA has met with fairly lukewarm reception since its official launch on June 25, 2013. Below I discuss the OUYA and the niche market it is serving.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Fall Feedbag - Gauging excitement for some upcoming games

Pre-release hype can be a factor of many things. Sometimes it is legitimate fan anticipation, other times it is the fabrication of the publisher and, often, it is a mix of the two. With school back in session and the summer release lull drawing to a close, I thought it would be a good opportunity to look at some titles expected to be released in the next few months and provide my take on the public hype for each of them.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Showtime! - Ideas to improve the presentation of e-sports

One of the interesting things that has happened in gaming over the past decade is the rise of the professional circuit. For evidence of this, consider that Starcraft is practically the national sport of South Korea and has dedicated television stations covering matches and analysis. On a whole, I feel the emergence of a professional circuit is a boon to the industry even if it does carry a big of baggage. Today I will outline a bit of the overall impact of professional gaming on the industry and then transition into a few ways I think that the industry can take queues from more established sports.